Systematic Mapping of Color to the Alphabet
My use of colors in painting and art has also increased over the last five years and I have become aware of how difficult it is to find a universal meaning of color that can transcend the cultural boundaries in a similar way that the symbols used in written language and mathematics have become universal. In a failed quest to find universal color meaning, I hit upon an idea of just mapping colors to a pre-existing system that can hold meaning, the alphabet.
This type of mapping has been done in many ways in the past, with musical composers mapping colors to sound and harmony, computer artists mapping whole banks of words to millions of hues so that visual grouping can take place quickly. All these ideas, while forming an interesting system, did not meet my needs as a painter, as they could not be rendered in a direct way on canvas.
Taking a cue from Phoenicians, what I have done is to map a subset 26 distinct colors to a standardized set of signs (English alphabet or graphemes) that will allow me to construct meaning out of color directly and unambiguously use the English system of language that I am already familiar with.
These 26 colors are to be housed in a set of handmade glyphs (fonts) that allow a reader to more clearly navigate (i.e. read) through the color data (although the use of these glyphs are irrelevant as long as the colors are distinct, standardized and the reader is given a direction for reading). The addition of unique set of “punctuation symbols” developed in the font, allow the more accurate mapping of meaning from a standard “glyph” based set of symbols into the color.
The rules associated with reading English text do not necessarily apply when reading color text because of the symmetry of the glyphs. This difference has lead to different way of representing texts. For example, it is assumed that the reading be done from left to right but as the color swatches have no orientation, readers need only be given the direction in which to begin reading.